16 December 2011

16 December - While the light lasts

I shall remember while the light lives yet
And in the night-time I shall not forget...

It was on this day some years ago that Mrs. Rudd became, suddenly and without warning, Widow Rudd.

There is never any good time of year to lose a loved one, but this season between two of the most family/friend oriented of our holidays – Lights! Decorations! Parties! Presents! Joy, Thanksgiving, and Goodwill! – seems like the worst time.  Everything is against it. 

“What did you get me for Christmas this year?”
“I’m not telling you.”
“You didn’t get me socks and underwear again, did you?”
“No, dear.  Trust me.”

Of course, I got him socks and underwear.  It was traditional.  Just like the “Old Spice” set that the kids gave him every year, and the bottle of expensively good Irish whiskey, so that himself could have a ‘taste’ (as he called it) at the end of the day.  All under the tree awaiting Christmas morning.

And then… and then…

O Lord, why?

We had a wake.  We had a funeral.  We laughed and told stories at the wake.  We cried and listened to the gun salute at the funeral.

Lights, decorations, Christmas songs everywhere.  I went home, turned off the tree lights, crawled into the bottle of expensively good Irish whiskey and set up housekeeping there.

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely.  Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, - but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love, –
They are gone.  They are gone to feed the roses.  Elegant and curled
Is the blossom.  Fragrant is the blossom.  I know.  But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know.  But I do not approve.  And I am not resigned

Of your charity, please pray for the soul of Mr. Rudd, a gallant Marine and a Christian gentleman.

From Erotion – Charles A. Swinburne
Dirge without Music – Edna St. Vincent Millay